Fractals: An Adult Coloring Book Review


Thank you to Green Frog Publishing for sending this book to me in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. I received no other compensation. This post does contain affiliate links.

fractalsAdult Coloring Book: Fractals, by Ben Trube. 68 Pages.  Published by Green Frog Publishing, February 2016.

“Learn about fractals as you color, and see a whole new way of looking at the world around you.”

As I have told you before, I find it fascinating that math is the foundation of much of the beauty in nature, such as snowflakes and the spirals of seeds in sunflowers. And I have been looking for a more challenging coloring book to put my new bifocals (!) to the test. So I was thrilled when Green Frog Publishing asked me to give Adult Coloring Book: Fractals by Ben Trube a try.


Fractals opens with a brief yet calming breathing exercise suggested for preparing for your coloring session (I’ve used a similar one many times – it works). The book continues with the coloring pages. Each page has an introduction that includes a bit of information about fractals or the math behind the fractal you are coloring. A glossary of fractal terms is at the back of the book.
Romanesco by Wikipedia licensed under CC by 2.0

But, what are fractals? Many are shapes where each progressively smaller piece is a copy of the whole. They are beautiful, and sometimes weird. Whether you are looking at the whole shape of a fractal, or just a piece, you will see the same pattern repeat itself.

You will find fractals all around you in nature, such as snowflakes, waves, or fern leaves. A great example is romanesco: If you look at a one, you will see that every point has the same shape as the whole vegetable. Mathematicians use equations to describe fractals found in nature, and today they can use computers to create them, as author Ben Trube has done in this book.

Mathigon has some great animations of basic fractals here.

fractalsFractals has 25 illustrations to color, four of them highly detailed grayscale. Each unique single-sided design is centered on the page, so you don’t have to deal with margin/gutter issues.

Because they are patterns, the designs may seem structured but at the same time, they do have an organic feel. Some of them are made of blocks or circles and others, such as the grayscale ones, are reminiscent of the inside of a seashell or a galaxy. A few of patterns have larger elements  which “devolve” into smaller and smaller versions of the pattern.  Others are repeating patterns of small to tiny elements requiring a very sharp pencil or extra-fine marker.

A “devolving” design.

If you do crewelwork, you may find that some of the designs look like cross-stitch or needlepoint patterns.

Linework is light and thin, except for the grayscale images, where you color the “negative space.”

This book is 8-1/2” x 11”  with glossy, flexible paperback front and back covers. You will get the best results if you place it on a hard surface when you are coloring.

The binding is glue, and the pages do lay flat after a bit of pressing the book open. fractalsThe 55-pound paper is white and lightly textured; it does have some “tooth,” so when I was coloring with artist-quality pencils I got good coverage.  However, I needed to lay down several layers of very sharp pencil to achieve vibrant colors.

Front and reverse of image colored with BIC Markits

Technically, all of the illustrations are single-sided, but the reverse of each illustration does have the introduction to the next one printed on it.  My water-based markers, and even more so my alcohol-based markers, did bleed to the reverse side of the design. If you use dark colors you may hide the introduction to the subsequent drawing. I recommend that you use a slip-sheet if you choose to color with markers.

The pages in this coloring book are not perforated, so use scissors or an Xacto knife if you want to take them out. There is plenty of margin, so this isn’t difficult.

Level of Difficulty
I’d rate the designs in this book as difficult. Many of the drawings are composed of intricate, tiny elements, so you will need to keep your pencils very sharp, or use extra-fine-tipped markers or pens if you want to color each element separately. I did find, however, that coloring-in groups of individual elements made the coloring easier and gave me some lovely finished drawings, too.

Work in Process

Anyone with vision or fine motor control challenges may find many of these designs tough to complete without some assistance.  To make it easier, you may want to try a lighted magnifying glass, like this one  or this one.

Picking colors, however, was simple; I found the “close your eyes and choose” method resulted in some striking colored-in designs.   A few illustrations do have larger elements where you could add your own details or advanced coloring techniques, but for the most part, the components are so small there isn’t any room for blending or shading.  However, I found that varying the intensity of colors within groups of elements was a great way to add dimension in some of the illustrations.

Therapeutic Benefit
The designs in Fractals will keep you entranced and help you escape from everyday pressures for much longer than just while you are coloring. I loved looking at the designs and figuring out the patterns – it was a great mental escape and helped me be calm.

The Verdict
Fractals is the perfect adult coloring book for colorists who enjoy patterns. It would be an awesome gift for any math or computer science fan as well as the more experienced colorist looking for a bit of a challenge.

Update July 22: Want to win this coloring book?  Enter our National Coloring Book Day Giveaway here.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available at, and

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2 thoughts on “Fractals: An Adult Coloring Book Review”

  1. Madeleine Poe says:

    I have some very artistic mathematically friends who immerse themselves in creating gorgeous fractal designs on the internet. One of the sites they use is JWildfire and the results are nothing short of astonishing. Having tried that site and others, I can honestly tell you that this is not like the spirograph or etch-a-sketch and my designs were pitiful. So when I saw that you were reviewing a coloring book FRACTALS, I about jumped for joy. I’ll finally be able to try my hand at these mathematical beauties without losing my mind in the process. Thanks so very much!

    1. Madeleine Poe says:

      First sentence should read “…mathematically-inclined friends…”
      Don’t you just love when Autocorrect goes into auto edit mode? Argh!!!

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